Will try to be objective and make this concise. First, we are seasoned, middle aged cruisers w/ 20+ cruises logged on RCCL, Celebrity, Carnival and Princess. We had heard mixed reviews about NCL but got a good deal on a balcony cabin ($649) and thought we'd give the line a try.
First the Pros:
*Cabin 8200 on the 8th floor aft had ample storage and comfortable bedding. Each guest has a reading light. Balcony size was good w/ two reg chairs and a small table. Décor was pleasant. Small fridge, hairdryer, coffee maker (!), dispensers w/ shampoo and shower gel.
**Embarkation and debarkation get a big thumbs up w/ neither taking more than 20 mins.
**NCL EPIC offers single cabins for solo travelers or individuals who simply want their own room (we did not see a single but think this is a great idea)!
**Dining room menu is available in casual full service restaurant "Taste".
**Breakfast buffet was plentiful, offering a full range of choices every morning. They even made eggs benedict on debarkation day).
**Art was plentiful in the auction gallery and auctioneer & gallery director were knowledgeable and attentive.
**Nice array of children's facilities--arcade, rock climbing wall, BB court, Water slides, toddler pool area, etc.
**O'Sheehan's is a sports bar/grille offering bar food on one side and regular dining on the other. It is pleasant, casual and over looks a massive (20" x 30' ?) large screen in the atrium below.
**First time we've seen bowling alley on a ship ($5 a game---boo).
**Food was overall fair to good with a some dishes sticking in my mind as being very tasty----SF Chocolate Panna Cotta, Grilled Mahi Mahi, Crepes, Seafood Coppincino, salads and dressings, pecan sticky buns. (Would avoid the French onion soup).
**Large bin for used towels storage under sink.
Now the Cons:
**This balcony cabin is THE SMALLEST we have ever seen. Think of a RCCL cabin that shrunk. Room was curved and a large person would have trouble walking through the room. You can sit on the bed and brush your teeth. The sink is the size of a large dinner plate.
**Room was oddly designed w/ sink in the bedroom and separate stalls for shower and toilet (each had a frosted sliding door).Light switches are hidden and you must park your room card in a slot near the entrance to have working lights (hurray for the green part, boo for having to figure this out for ourselves).
**Many dining tables and all deck chairs need repair and/or replacement. On sea days as always. it was hard to find an open deck chair but this was in part because many chairs were stacked, tied and not made available.
**Be careful when choosing a balcony cabin. The lifeboats hang off the side of the ship and obscure the majority of balcony rooms. We like looking down at the water and many balcony rooms did not afford this view.
**Service, compared to other lines, was overall lacking. $12 pp, per day gratuity was automatically billed to one's account .
**The three shows that were included were good but on the other nights, entertainment was limited. We enjoy shows very night so if that is what you're looking for too, this isn't the ship for you.
**Too many of the dining choices are pay restaurants with fees per person of $15-$30. Free style is not so free style when extra fees are added and there still remains a minimal dress code in the main DR, basically resort casual.
**There were three tiny pools that were always crowded. There was a "posh pass", fee unknown, that allowed you access to another area where there may have been another pool but we didn't check that out. Our thought is that adequate swimming facilities should be offered for free for all guests.
**Watch your on board credit balances! We lost out on $20+ because some credit is refundable and other is not which means that it cannot be applied for service charges, ie that horrendous $12 pp, per day fee.
Check your balances before the last day when debarking which is when you receive your paper statement. What a scam.
**St Thomas port time was awful--everyone had to back on board at 3:30 pm. I don't ever recall having to be back that early in St Thomas.
**The ship itself is huge but nothing about it was awe inspiring. It was a big, ugly ship. It lacked the décor and design of most ships. It was also set up in a chopped up fashion, making it difficult to negotiate. Elevators are at each end of the ship which does help guests to walk off those desserts.
**We were not impressed (being kind) with the ship's Captain whose answers to two children's questions during officers Q&A were curt & rude. Shame on him.
**We didn't catch a glimpse of the CD until the 3rd-4th day. There was not a welcome show which was disappointing.
**Overall, a fair experience. Would we cruise NCL again? Probably not.